Top class: a room at Miss Clara / Design Hotels
A Swedish arrival that is schooled in style

The Nobis hotel portfolio spans some of Sweden's finest tourist addresses. It's a small, striking collection whose properties are as distinct as they are design-driven. They range from a 17th-century inn to the resolutely modern Fabriken Furillen hotel which occupies abandoned industrial buildings at a former quarry on Gotland island. Its newest member, and part of the Design Hotels group, is Miss Clara, set right in the heart of the Swedish capital. The hotel is in one of the city's finest Art Nouveau buildings, originally the esteemed Ateneum girls' school. And it is named after its most distinguished headmistress, Clara Stromberg.

Local architect Gert Wingardh was enlisted to reconfigure the building, whose grand interior sports high ceilings, huge arched windows, and the original 1910 staircase. He called on some of Sweden's top craftsmen for the interiors, including furniture manufacturer Gemala, which made the simple but distinctive headboards. Its bent wood design is found in many areas of the hotel, from two chairs joined to form a bench in reception, to the inspired idea of attaching a single chairback to the foot of the bed. How you use this is entirely up to you. We tried it as a clothes hanger but preferred it for sitting and chatting. There's also a lap tray in the room so that the bed can be further used as work area.

The limestone, wood and naturally-dyed leather are accentuated with low lighting in the restaurant, whose clientele is an eclectic mix of savvy locals and visitors, giving it a buzzy atmosphere. Chef Daniel Guest focuses on traditional cooking methods and local produce.

Breakfast is an impressive buffet that includes freshly made smoothies, home-cured herrings, and farm-reared pork sausages.

Miss Clara: the hotel restaurant (Design Hotel)


The hotel is on Sveavagen Boulevard, in the cosmopolitan and central Norrmalm district. It's a few blocks from Central Station, where express trains arrive and depart for Arlanda airport. Hotorget Metro station is a couple of minutes' walk away. It's a pleasant 10-minute stroll to the main shopping area around Hamngatan, where the swish Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) department store was a personal highlight; while the old town, Gamla Stan and museum island, Skeppsholmen, are around 20 minutes' walk to the south.

Further afield – and easily reached by tram – Djurgarden is an oasis of green that's home to the amazing Vasa warship, which sank in the harbour in 1628 at the start of its maiden voyage and was lifted in the 1960s. You can easily spend the day here, ending with a visit to Grona Lund, Sweden's oldest amusement park.


The reception staff were friendly and helpful, our luggage delivered to our room while we were out enjoying lunch. Thoughtful touches included a supply of huge umbrellas by the door, which were most welcome during our stay.

The rooms are reached via the wonderful original staircase, but there are also lifts if you have over-indulged in the shops nearby. Our room was on the corner with a bird's-eye view of Sveavagen on one side and the graceful, 18th-century Adolf Fredriks Church on the other.

All 92 rooms share a similar colour scheme, which graduates from dark tones of parquet flooring to the lighter, whiter palette on the walls.

The bathrooms are limestone with glass walls to keep a feeling of light and space throughout. There are opaque curtains, which can be drawn across for modesty when bathing. Soft bathrobes and Orla Kiely toiletries add a touch of luxury.

My only frustration was that there is a slight triumph of design over function, especially in the bathroom. It seemed such a shame to leave the soap sliding around on the beautiful limestone and a little odd to hang the robes with our coats rather than with the towels.

In the bedroom, the window alcove is fitted with a multi-purpose piece of wooden furniture that conceals the minibar and safe; there's a comfy cushion on top allowing you to indulge in a spot of people-watching outside.

There's also a small fitness centre and sauna – rather more indulgent fixtures than the former scholars enjoyed.

Travel essentials

Miss Clara by Nobis, Sveavagen 48, Stockholm, Sweden (00 46 8 440 6700;

Rooms ****

Value *****

Service *****

Doubles start at SEK1,290 (£112) including breakfast and Wi-Fi.